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How Accordion Bass Buttons Work


The piano accordion is falsely assumed to be extremely complicated to play because of the apparent complexity of what looks like a large number of left hand buttons.

To the casual observer the buttons all look the same, but the important thing is what they feel like to the player, not what they look like as the player cannot see them anyway..

In fact not all buttons are used at a time - the selection depends on what key you are in and this makes simple tunes with simple harmonies very easy to play on the accordion.

The bass buttons are cleverly designed to have the notes and complete chords you are going to use as close together as possible. in the left hand this is not the same as them being next door notes.

Related chords are ones having similar numbers of sharps or flats as in the circle of keys. For example a key with one flat (F) is similar to one to one with no flats or sharps (C) which in turn is similar to G with its one sharp.

These related chords are well known to work together and in the accordion buttons they are placed close together.

The vertical line and the near-horizontal diagonal made by the buttons work like the columns and rows of a spreadsheet.

The columns feature different aspects of a particular chord, first a single key note, then successively complete major, minor and diminished chords of it if you hold on to the diagonal line. (For the moment I have left out the extreme outside row of buttons).

They are all laid out in two directions of a vertical line and a diagonal to fit the line of the fingers.

All this means that anyone with a reasonable grasp of right hand keyboard or piano playing can add a bass line with chords that would entail large movements on a piano keyboard but are all very close together on the accordion. Even the notes of the major scales are close together and automatically follow the key signature.

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